Lincecum gets to the heart of the matter

March 18, 2012, 12:13 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Theres nothing like a stiff breezeblowing out and a couple of wallbangers to make a pitcher nibble at thecorners.

Tim Lincecum gave up a few deep drives Saturday afternoon five extra-base hits in his first two innings, actually.

But Lincecum didnt start shying away from the zone. He keptgoing for the heart of the plate. Its something he plans to do all season ashe looks to cut down his 86 walks from last year, which was one behind ColoradosJhoulys Chacin for the most in the National League.

No walks, said Lincecum, after becoming the first Giantspitcher to complete six innings this spring. Its a huge thing for me. Itsabout getting ahead, and even when you dont, not being afraid to throw awrinkle down the middle. For me, thats a two-seamer. Hopefully you induce aground ball or something.

And get back into the dugout with fewer pitches. Thats whatLincecum did in the Giants 7-2 victory over the As at Scottsdale Stadium. Hewent over to pitching coach Dave Righetti after the fourth inning, looking forsome counsel because he knew hed been knocked around.

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He said I was at 48 pitches through four innings, Lincecumsaid. I was like, Oh, I guess its not as bad as I thought.

He struck out four, made pitches with runners on base whileholding the As to one run in six innings. The only run scored when he allowedconsecutive two-out doubles to Daric Barton and Derek Norris in the secondinning. The pitch to Norris was a 1-2 changeup that hovered at the belt.

I tried to slide-step a changeup, and Im not going to dothat anymore, Lincecum said. There are things a pitcher has to focus on.

Lincecum is not focusing on his slider. He didnt throw oneSaturday, and said hes trying to narrow his focus on his core pitches.

Fastball-curve-change is working right now, he said. (Theslider) is going to be my fourth pitch. Ill lean on the first three.

Lincecum said getting away from his fastball and changeup my two stronger pitches is one thing that leads to walks. Hes also awarethat his 3.99 pitches per plate appearance last season was the highest of hiscareer.

Lincecums evolving outlook on pitching to contact might bepart of his maturation. But it also might reflect confidence in a more athleticdefense that should be improved on both the infield and outfield.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes all the pitchers feel thatway.

With the stuff they have, theyll log their strikeouts,Bochy said. But thats the last thing we want them trying to do. Just attackthe zone and use your defense.

The defense saved Lincecum at least one run. Right fielderNate Schierholtz made a strong throw even by his standards to throw out arunner at the plate.

The benefit of arms in the outfield speaks for itself,Lincecum said. Thats excitement, right there.

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